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Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, “Come back later; I’ll give it tomorrow”— when you now have it with you. Proverbs 3:27-32 (NIV) (Click on this link to read this passage in your preferred version of the Bible. You may select your version after the link opens. )

Who hasn’t yet heard about the earthquakes that devastated Port-au-Prince in Haiti last Tuesday?  It has been the dominating topic on all news casts on television and radio stations for the past several days. The devastation and needs are unfathomable.

What is the Christian response for those of us living in our comfortable homes as our TVs, radios, and computers bring the reality of these people’s sufferings into our living rooms. We can go to our kitchen sink or refrigerator and get a fresh glass of water or other beverage – they are unable to find water. We pat our stomachs after a full meal – they may have to fight to get or keep a serving of food. We can turn the TV off to give us a little distance from the suffering – they can’t.

Sadly, the first response many have to meeting the needs when crises like these occur is to run to our closets and pantry to look for things we need to give away – things we won’t miss. Some want to jump on a plane and fly to Haiti to offer physical labor and expertise. But a closer look reveals some bottle-necks that will keep any of these first responses from being helpful. In fact doing these things may only cause increased hardships for a while.

The airport in Haiti is small and can handle only a little traffic. The roads are so damaged that it is nearly impossible to move clothes and household goods, they are only in the way at this time. The shipping ports were also damaged for getting goods into the country. So initially we can only wait patiently until the bottle-neck is cleared.

As Christians, our first line of defense is prayer. There is no bottle-neck preventing us from praying for the people of Haiti.

The second thing that can be donated immediately is money. Cash is flexible and can be used to meet whatever need is prominent at the time. Unfortunately, it won’t be found on a neglected hanger in your closet or in the back of your pantry with the food that has been sitting in your pantry undisturbed for some time. Cash comes from the bottom of our pockets. In our current economy, reaching for cash calls for greater sacrifice.

We may think we don’t have cash to spare. That’s when we need to turn the TV back on and make some comparisons. Can we truly say we have nothing to give to these desperate people?

We can also start organizing other forms of help to have them ready when the bottleneck is cleared. The Haitian people desperately need water, food, clothing, and volunteers. Volunteers need to have these supplies ready for shipment as soon as the all-clear signal is given.

The following organizations are excellent for getting resources to the people. Not only do they work long and hard to meet the needs of the people, they also provide these services in Jesus’ name and offer spiritual encouragement as well.

Samaritans Purse

The Salvation Army

Mennonite Central Committee

World Vision International

United Methodist Committee On Relief

Global Aid Network

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

      17 “‘Do not hate your brother in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in his guilt. 

     18 “‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.  (Leviticus 19:17-18  NIV)

God doesn’t allow much room for hate in our hearts, especially when that hatred is directed against people.  God hates evil and so should we.  But when it comes to the people who upset us, hate should not be among our responses.  God does allow us the option of rebuking another person, but even that should be done with the other person’s best interest at heart.  When we rebuke another we should do it in a spirit of helping that person, not in a spirit of seeking revenge. 

Neither does God allow us the option of holding a grudge against another person.  We must forgive from the heart and mean it. 

This seldom comes easy.  Sometimes it is hardest to forgive those closest to us.  When we feel another has wronged us we must pray for God to give us the right approach to take.  Whether it is to confront that person in love, or to simply turn it over to God by asking him to take the ill will out of our heart, and to cleanse our hearts from the grudges we feel.

Lord, help me to apply these teachings to my own heart and life that I may be truly free to serve you.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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